Biotic Response to Climatic Change


The present distribution of organisms is broadly related to climate. Past changes in climate, on both long‐ and short‐term time scales, have commonly resulted in shifts in biotic distribution, but in extreme cases they have caused major episodes of extinction.

Keywords: climate; distribution; extinction; biodiversity; migration

Figure 1.

Occurrence of the more abundant pollen types in the sequence of Quaternary lake sediments at Valle di Castiglione, Italy. Three warm phases are highlighted to emphasize the cyclic repetition of floral associations, but also the differences in abundance and timing of peak abundance in different cycles (e.g. deciduous oak and hornbeam). (a) Total trees; (b) Caryophyllacea; (c) Graminacea (grasses); (d) Chenopodiacea (family of flowers); (e) Artemesia (genus of flowers); (f) Quercus ilex type (evergreen oak); (g) Quercus spp. (deciduous oaks); (h) Ulmus (elm); (i) Carpinus betulus (hornbeam); (j) Fagus (beech); (k) Pinus (pine). Modified from Follieri et al. and Bennett .

Figure 2.

Vegetational maps of (a) the Paleocene–early Eocene and (b) the early Miocene, showing the equatorwards displacement of floras and contraction of paratropical and tropical floral belts in response to global cooling. Modified from Wolfe . Copyright © 1985 The American Geophysical Union.



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Further Reading

Bennett KD (1997) Evolution and Ecology: the Pace of Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Roberts N (1998) The Holocene: an Environmental History, 2nd edn. Oxford: Blackwell.

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Brenchley, Patrick John(Jan 2002) Biotic Response to Climatic Change. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001651]